The image that comes to our mind when we hear of Malaga is the typical sun and beach destination. In fact, decades of touristic development by promoting just that have turned it into a very well-established destination in Europe and Spain, and on the engine of the regional economy. However, it is a rather simplistic definition. Malaga has much more to offer and it is why I decided to post gradually about the most curious places and towns in the province, so that, those who visit us may discover additional options to the relax and the beach that will enrich their visit. And I’ll start with one of the white villages par excellence: Frigiliana.

Frigiliana is a small town 56 kms from Málaga. It settles on a hillside in the Sierra de la Almijara, 300 meters above the sea near the well-known town of Nerja and it belongs to the area known as “Axarquia malagueña” nor Western Costa del Sol.

Frigiliana is a garden that overlooks the Mediterranean with its whitewashed houses and studded with multicolored bougainvillea framed by a resounding and intense blue sky.

Town full of history, it is well known for its old town, Moorish in origin and exceptionally well maintained and preserved for our sense enjoyment. Because Frigiliana is to be felt, to be strolled with guile and without direction, walking and observing it. Letting bewitch us. Narrow cobbled streets where only donkeys and pedestrians run, in curvaceous slopes are the tonic. Walls, overhangs and stairs in each corner are the entrance to a house, which seem built one against the other in juxtaposition but in a curious harmony.

When I visited the Rift in northern Morocco, I thought those towns were like the towns of this Axarquia, nor Cadiz, nor Las Alpujarras and certainly the answer and the explanation to this is simple: we talk about the same settlers. When you walk through Frigiliana you are reaffirmed, it is the same type of construction and have in common the adaptation to the environment and for me something that makes them unique: the human dimension and imperfection, or are not the same thing?

They are simple dwellings, even rought, built with materials that come from the vicinity and that adapt to the the whimsical land. Immaculate thick walls where the color note is put by the colourful doors and small windows curdled of flower pots, stonemasons, drinking jugs and all kinds of containers to accommodate an endless variety of plants and flowers of all colors, like carnations, geraniums, jasmine, roses and lilacs. And such beauty and good vibrations are the work of their neighbors, who with great care and dedication are responsible for maintaining the pristine streets of the neighborhood for it to look at its best. In fact, its Moorish quarter or Barrio Alto is recognized as one of the most authentic old town centers of traditional Arabian architecture in Spain.

Making a small section on its history, like many other towns of the Sierra Almijara or the nearby Alpujarras, the main economic activity in Frigiliana was the agriculture, oil, grapes and figs, and of course the production of silks. As happened in the Alpujarras (see article in this blog) after the fall of the kingdom of Granada, its mainly Muslim population continued making his life protected by the capitulations of Santa Fe, signed by the Catholic Kings, who recognized them (at least on paper) the right to maintain their properties, their worship, and their customs. I say on paper because in practice this was not so, and with King Felipe II coexistence between the subjected Moors and dominant Christians deterioratet. The excessive taxes that Moors had to pay the, the social restrictions and forced conversions to Christianity brought that as in the rest of the kingdom, the Moors of Frigiliana rise against royal authority. In the fortress and the Rock of Frigiliana a great battle was held and ended with the expulsion of the Moors in 1568 and the repopulation of this town with “old Christians” of other regions of the country. The story of this battle and previous times is narrated in 12 ceramic panels that can be read in the Old Town.

Oh by the way, for those who visit Frigiliana in late August, note at your schedule the Festival of the 3 cultures, feast of interest for the province where multiculturalism is present in all activities. Thanks to the Festival, in 2010 the city was a candidate for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, within the candidature presented to the descendants of the Andalusian Moors as candidates for the prize. Moorish quarter of Frigiliana and Festival of the 3 cultures itself, made of ambassadors for all Spanish and foreign localities with Moorish-Andalusian track.

And I’ll tell you no more, the rest will have to discover for yourselves.